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on March 23, 2011
I have been gardening seriously for the past couple of years and really got interested in containers last year. I have been asking myself a lot of questions about container gardening, mainly about the nature of the soil to use for pots and I have always wondered if I could reuse potting soil. I have made my share of mistakes (buying lousy pptting soil, for one, or not fertilizing enough) but I have really been craving a seasoned gardener's advice. I already owned the The Vegetable Gardener's Bible (10th Anniversary Edition) from the same author and McGee & Stuckey's Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers. Both were great but the former was really focused on raised beds (which is fine) and the latter lacked pictures and specific guidance. I appreciated that the authors of the Bountiful Container leave it to me to decide whether I want to grow organic or not but sometimes you just need somebody to tell you what works!

I liked the Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible the moment I put my hands on the book. It is abundantly illustrated (a huge help for a novice gardener like me!!), from pictures of containers with mature plants, to pictures of good quality soil (so you know what to look for) and how to make your own potting mix (loved the advice to mix it all in a rain barrow!). The author encourages you to add a slow-acting fertilizer to the potting mix so you do not have to fertilize too much, if at all, during the growing season (I used Dr Earth fertilizer if you are interested in organic gardening without bone meal, by the way). There are also instructions to make self-watering containers and advice on which veggies like them best. That is the first part of the book.

The second part of the book focuses on the various varieties of vegetables that you can grow in containers and the varieties that the author thinks grow better in containers are marked "Ed's Picks." Those include lettuces, various greens, or eggplants (especially if you live in the Northern states). The book has beautiful photos of every herb and vegetable with the minimum information you need to grow them successfully. A few varieties of each veggie are recommended. I find that McGee & Stuckey's Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers provided more in-depth information on each edible and I liked that the book covered fruit trees ans flowers while Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible focused (obviously) on veggies. The Bountiful Container also was more "poetic" in its descriptions and gave more advice specific to each edible variety, in my opinion. At the end, I would recommend both books. Use the Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible to get started and see pictures, then refer to McGee & Stuckey's Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers for more in-depth information on each variety.
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on March 5, 2011
This is a great book for learning about vegetable container gardening, but if you already own Edward C Smith's Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers, there's no need to buy this too. This is basically a rewrite, 9 pages longer. Had I realized before purchasing, I would have bought his Vegetable Gardener's Bible instead, to improve my earth garden. Still, this is a very useful book for container gardening. Read either one and improve your vegetable crops this year! Edward C Smith's books are essential to my library when I make my yearly garden plan.
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on May 24, 2012
This is my first year with vegetable gardening, and I live in an apartment that has a landlord-maintained backyard. So anything I planted had to be in containers. I'd read Smith's previous book on vegetable gardening and was very impressed with his detailed, practical and comprehensive knowledge. This book is a bit more narrow in focus - less discussion of compost and root structure, which I think would be as helpful here as it was in his previous book, and some unnecessary repetition of factoids, like how much water a tomato needs in the summer. But I think it's still the best container gardening book I've read, and I've referenced it almost daily as I've planned and built my first garden.

He does strongly recommend self-watering containers for pretty much all vegetables, almost sadly admitting that some herbs do better in traditional pots. I would call this bias, but I think he offers convincing arguments for them. To get another perspective, I bought Bountiful Containers as well, which only briefly mentions self-watering containers. But I found its information to be a lot more vague and broad, with no mention of how much water and sunlight some plants will need. Much more of a "plant it and see" approach. Where Bountiful Container is good for inspiring someone to garden, with a light amount of information for a broad variety of plants, Bible is geared to making that garden successful, with deep, detailed information about fewer, more common plants.

I definitely appreciate his section on how to build your own containers, because commercially available ones are mostly too small. However, it does assume a certain level of handyman skills, tools and materials. Some apartment dwellers may have a drill, but how many have a hacksaw, caulking gun, and lengths of PVC tubing? I tried to build my own tomato planters out of 18 gallon tote bins, a box cutter, a screwdriver for poking holes, and some yogurt tubs for wicking baskets, but they weren't sturdy enough to hold all the soil I put in. So I gave up and bought some expensive but high quality planters from some of the excellent resources he lists in the back.

At times, it's hard to tell what's absolutely necessary and what's just icing on the cake. The soil amendment section in particular involves a mix of hard-to-find and expensive ingredients. Does a first-time gardener REALLY need to buy limestone, azomite, blood meal, phosphate and green sand in addition to high-quality organic potting soil, compost and perlite? I don't rightly know. So I'm making do with the soil, perlite, and some all-purpose organic vegetable fertilizer and seeing how it goes. A section to get first timers like me started out right without a gigantic investment would have been nice.

So, in all, not a perfect book, but a very good one that has given me a great first garden so far. I definitely recommend it.
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on January 27, 2012
I bought this book and The Vegetable Gardeners Bible by the same author. I found them both very useful. This book gave me ideas I didn't think would work. Like my fingerling red potatoes grown in a big square planter! We had so many potatoes, they literally were growing out of the dirt! Harvest was so easy! Turn the pot over and pick through the dirt...DONE! We grew two planters of Potatoes and 2 of Tomatoes. My Tomatoe plants were 7 feet tall and had stalks that were 5 inches in dia. They were Monsters! They were so heavily laden with fruit, they broke their cages twice! Now these plants were just plain old Heirloom tomatoe plants, nothing special! The fruit was huge and numerous. My secret came from a planting tip in the book, and man did it work! Nope, I'll not give it away! Buy the book. Buy won't be sorry. Will you use all the info? Well like most "how to" books, probably not. But if you have a small yard or live in an apartment or condo, you can have lots of fun with your storage container turned farm! 2012 I am expanding my garden and the number of containers I use. Oh, another piece of wisdom from this book, I planted my lettuce in "over the rail" window boxes (2 boxes, 2 plants each) and have been eating off them all winter long. I just kept covering them or bringing them in when it froze or got too cold out. I have had home grown lettuce all winter long off 4 plants that just kept growing(that secret I got out of the books as well). I finally left them out to die when it snowed last week as I have plans for the boxes this spring as well.

The authors ideas are simple, inexpensive and easy. You can adopt your own container plans like I did. I had hanging baskets full of herb instead of flowers, they also looked better and lasted longer than my flowering baskets ever did! Then there were my potatoes in planters flanking my front porch. Potatoes when kept watered can be rather large and stately plants with tender white flowers! Rather lovely actually! I think you will like this book.
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on March 31, 2011
This is one of the best books I own. It's not only chock full of information, I like the way it's organized. There is a large section of general information with clear and colorful subject titles with a wide range of information. About half the book is dedicated to individual plants with information on choosing a pot, planting it, protecting from bugs, raising the plant and harvesting it. There are many, many photographs a good hardiness zone map and a very efficient index. I can't wait for warmer weather!
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on November 5, 2012
Lots of color photos and basic information covered in many other vegetable gardening books. A bit light on the 'self-watering container' making-and-using information, I thought. If you just want information on making your own self-watering container, search for the term 'earthtainer' and skip buying either Ed Smith's 'Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers' (978-1580175562; 2006) OR Ed Smith's 'The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible (978-1603429757; 2011), which are essentially the same book except the newer edition has a few more pages on how to make your own self-watering container.
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on November 7, 2013
I was hesitant about this book at first. However, after it seemed to start slowly, I was impressed with his discussion of soil preparation, including his container soil mix recipe. I was also pleased with his templates for making self-watering containers. Being as I'm not real handy, his designs are simple enough that I feel confident I can do it. I had the Kindle version, which had a typo in the soil mix recipe: It should simply say 1 Tablespoon of Azomite for micronutrients. However, after examining assays from both Azomite and Maxicrop, I decided to substitute equal amounts of Maxicrop, which also contains plant growth hormones and vitamins that Azomite doesn't have. Azomite is ancient lake bed deposits found primarily in Utah, while Maxicrop is kelp harvested off the 12,000 mile coast of Norway. Kelp is a renewable resource, which I prefer. However, if that's not a concern, I've used Azomite before to good effect. Both supplements are rated for organic gardening.

I also had a question about how to amend the soil mix, so I wrote the publisher. Mr. Smith replied through them that if you're using a peat-lite mix already amended with N-P-K supplements, he recommends adding no more fertilizers. This is important, because plants can die from over-fertilizing as well as from malnutrition. In fact, the symptoms may appear similar! Since I mix my own peat-lite soil, I now know how to proceed as I experiment with growing Cole crops in pots this winter. I will mix peat/vermiculite/perlite, amend according to the Cornell recipe, add an equal part compost, then plant. For those interested, here's my organic peat-lite recipe: 8 pints peat, 5 pints vermiculite, 3 pints perlite, 40cc blood meal, 40cc bone meal, 40cc greensand, 35cc dolomite limestone, 6cc Maxicrop powder.

The reason I gave 4 stars instead of 5 is because the publisher didn't reformat the book for Kindle. As a result, it's hard associating many photo illustrations with the relevant text. You may have to page up and down while reading to figure out what picture goes with what text.

I highly recommend this book for gardeners looking to expand their knowledge into container growing, or for people with limited space looking to grow some of their own herbs and vegetables. Even experienced gardeners can learn plenty from The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible.
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on April 1, 2012
First off, I'm not a big gardener. I grow some spider plants for my cats to eat and a few aloes that I can't kill no matter what I do. I'd like to be more gardening-able. Would love to, actually. I got this book hoping it'd help me get going. Way over my head. This guy obviously knows what he's doing and I'm sure he does it well, but this book hit me more as a master gardener telling good gardeners how to be great. For a beginner like me, it was way more than I could think about attempting on my first try. Maybe in a few years if all goes well, but until then, I returned this one ASAP and picked up McGee & Stuckey's Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers. I find that one interesting, laid out wonderfully and encouraging, not intimidating.
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on December 27, 2014
Good info, but when it tells you to look on page 34 for further directions, the kindle doesn't show pages, just percentages. Oooopps, I might have to reorder a real book so I know what they are referring me to. :) Oh well, L-3
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on May 13, 2014
I have been gardening in containers and raised beds for over 15 years and have had my share of success and failures. This book is one of the first I have seen that speaks to self watering containers. I have been making my own from plastic storage boxes. I refresh them by adding some new soil each spring. Some are 10 years old and the plastic is deteriorating but they still work great. This book is filled with great information. I hope more people find this book and try container gardening. I am 68 years old container gardening had allowed me to continue to grow food for my family.
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